Headlines: April 16, 2019
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Leading Presidential contender Bernie Sanders accepted an invitation to a televised town hall meeting hosted by Fox News that aired on Monday. By all accounts Sanders’ gamble to appear on the right wing propaganda outlet paid off. Perhaps the most noteworthy moment was when hosts Brett Baer and Martha MacCallum asked the audience about healthcare. Sanders was also asked about his recently released tax returns and he quickly pivoted to President Trump’s tax returns. Sanders also pointed out how most of the benefits of Trump and the GOP’s tax reform bill went to the wealthiest Americans.
A new national poll found Sanders leading the crowded field of Democratic contenders, with former Vice President Joe Biden emerging second, and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttegieg third. On Tuesday the New York Times published a piece entitled, “‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Are Agonizing Over His Momentum,” which detailed how centrist Democrats are considering launching a negative campaign against their own party’s frontrunner.
Meanwhile President Donald Trump headed to Minnesota on Monday for an official White House visit that ended up looking and sounding more like a campaign stop aimed at flipping the blue state to red in 2020. He visited a trucking company in a suburb of Minneapolis called Burnsville and touted his tax reform law at an economic roundtable. Trump also spoke of wanting to help mining operations in the state that one local publication explained, “has been found to produce sulfuric acid that could poison the area’s pristine waters and wildlife.” Trump spoke favorably of a proposed copper and nickel mining operation on the border of Boundary Waters which would be overseen by a company named Twin Metals, owned by a Chilean firm with a history of toxic spills. Outside Trump’s event, supporters of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar protested the President’s racist comments. Trump has been tweeting dog-whistle posts toward Omar that could provoke violence against her.
France was in mourning on Monday with the famed Notre Dame Cathedral having caught fire and badly burned. Investigations have begun into how the fire started and the Paris prosecutor who is leading the probe said, “Nothing at this stage suggests a voluntary act.” Workers had been engaged in repairing the 850 year-old church when the fire broke out. From across the Atlantic President Trump tweeted his expert advice to Parisian firefighters, saying, “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” The New York Times described the fire as having, “destroyed the wood-and-lead roof and lacy spire [that] also left three ‘holes’ in the sweeping vaulted ceiling.” French President Emanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the church on Monday and a number of wealthy billionaires and corporations have so far offered about $450 million to fund the repairs.
More than 120 people were arrested in London on Monday during protests led by the group Extinction Rebellion – a movement born in the UK last year to tackle climate change using militant non-violent direct action. Activists have planned a series of events every day this week in cities like London, Vancouver, Mexico City, and Auckland, as well as in US cities such as New York and Los Angeles. The Monday action in London involved blocking streets during the busy workday, which reportedly impacted half a million Londoners. Of the 122 arrests, 117 were of people blocking Waterloo Bridge. Here are some of the sights and sounds on the bridge on Monday. Organizers have promised to up the ante on Tuesday and Wednesday saying they would engage in, “Open Rebellion For As Long As It Takes.”
Back here in the US, the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee have issued subpoenas to several financial institutions including Deutsche Bank demanding they turn over documents detailing their business dealings with President Trump. Committee chair Congresswoman Maxine Waters explained her panel’s motive saying, “The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern…The Financial Services Committee is exploring these matters, including as they may involve the President and his associates…and will follow the facts wherever they may lead us.” Deutsche Bank has done business with Trump for decades. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Presidential contender, has released her plan for protecting public lands. In a post on Medium.com on Monday the Massachusetts lawmaker spelled out how, “The Trump administration is busy selling off our public lands to the oil, gas and coal industries for pennies on the dollar — expanding fossil fuel extraction that destroys pristine sites across the country while pouring an accelerant on our climate crisis.” She also pledged, “[O]n my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands.”
North Carolina Republicans passed a bill this week in the state Senate requiring that doctors and nurses provide life support to any fetus or child born during what they call a failed “late-term abortion.” Associated Press explained that the so-called “born-alive” bill means, “health care practitioners should grant those children born alive the same protections as any other newborn patient. Those who don’t do so could face a felony and active prison time, along with potential $250,000 fines and other monetary damages.” Critics point out that the only instances in which pregnancies are terminated at a late stage is when the fetus or mother’s life is in danger, usually an incredibly emotional time for parents. The bill would potentially prolong pain in infants who are already dying. Republicans have created the idea of “late term abortions” as a political tool to undermine women’s constitutional rights. North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is expected to veto the measure.
And finally the husband of a slain Afghanistan war veteran is facing deportation from the United States. Army Pfc. Barbara Vieyra was killed in 2010 during combat in Afghanistan and was survived by her husband Jose Gonzalez Carranza who is an undocumented immigrant, and their 12-year old daughter who is a US citizen. Carranza, who resides in Arizona, was granted a reprieve from deportation at that time, but in early April he was unexpectedly deported to Nogales, Mexico, separated from his daughter. After a public outcry he was abruptly returned to the US where he awaits a legal decision.